Your graduate study is the cornerstone of your career development. The time that a student devotes to learning and earning a degree makes him or her ready to conquer any adversity and helps to prepare them not just for a job but it prepares for life’s unspoken difficulties.
However, we all know that a large number of students drop out of college each year.
Every year, over a million college students drop out. Students frequently find themselves in confusion when deciding if they want to continue their education due to financial constraints, family responsibilities, or dissatisfaction with their degree course.
According to research, dropouts face more economic difficulties due to a lack of college qualifications, connections, and professional life experiences.
This article discusses the college dropout rates, the reasons why students drop out, dropouts in various states in the US, and the consequences for those who choose to do so.
The College Dropout Rate in The US in 2023: Top Picks
- 39 million Americans (or 17% of all adults) had attended college, but they had no degree as of July 2020.
- Approximately 24% of first-time, undergraduate first-year students dropped out between 2019 and 2020.
- In 2021, approximately 1.4 million Americans had completed 4 or more years of college but had no degree.
- Based on six years of data, men have a 4 % higher dropout rate than women.
- 31.6% of the students who enrolled in 2015 were no longer enrolled in 2021 and had not yet earned a degree.
- First-year dropout rates for American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, and Pacific Islander students are higher than for Hispanic, white, and Asian students.
- Among the total dropout rate, college freshmen make up around 30%.
US College Dropout Rates: General Stats
- High school dropout rates are decreasing. The US experiences 40% of the college dropout rate each year.
- As of 2021, approx 31.6% of the students who have entered in the school either earned a degree or were not enrolled at any other college or school.
- The average dropout rate for the first year between 2015- 2020 was 24.3%.
- Since 2007, the dropout rate for fill-time first-year graduates has decreased to 5% points.
- For first-year students who are attending college for the first time, having the college dropout rate is highest at public schools.
- Between 2019 and 2020, two out of five (39.5%) first-year undergraduates at the public school dropped out of the school.
- In 2020, first-year undergraduates who have attended public four-year schools had the lowest dropout rate at 17.6%.
- Students that are attending profit-based colleges are more likely to drop out than students who are attending public or nonprofit colleges.
- 70% of students attending community colleges in California don’t even graduate or transfer.
- Without medication, the college dropout rate for students with ADHD is 51%.
- The majority of college dropouts are first-year students
- Computing has the highest college dropout rate, at 10.7%.
- The national dropout rate for six-year colleges has decreased by 1.2%.
- Within six years of starting college, 56% of students drop out.
- The cost of studying is one of the main reasons students drop out of college, according to 2022 college dropout rate statistics.
- 43% of the pupils who enrolled in a public school dropped out before receiving a diploma.
- In 2019, nearly 36% of those aged 25 and up in the United States completed college or another institution of higher education. More than half of all community college students drop out within six years.
- According to college dropout statistics, only 11.6% of students who drop out will transfer and complete their degrees elsewhere.
- According to the data from What to become, students aged between 24-29 are more likely to drop out of four-year colleges. Moreover, 52.5% of them have already left without a degree.
- Around 30% of the student dropouts re-enroll in college to finish their degree.
- 47% of adults suffering from schizophrenia drop out of college.
- First-generation low-income with 89% of students drop out at a rate four times that of second-generation students.
Here is the data of students who drop out after their first year by institute type. (2019)
|Institute Type||Drop out percentage|
|Public (four years)||17.6%|
|Private profit-based college (four years)||36.8%|
|Non-profit private (two years)||31.9%|
|Non-profit private (four years)||19.5%|
|Public two year||39.5%|
|Profit-based private (two years)||32.6%|
College Dropout Rate Demographics
Dropout rates vary by various demographic groups, like race, gender, and age. Sometimes students who are counted as dropouts may have been admitted to another college without informing their first college, as is the case with all dropout rates.
Race and Ethnicity
- Reports say that the least likely to drop out of college are Asian students.
- Based on the data from 2006 to 2013, American Indian or Alaska Native first-year students have the highest dropout rate with 41%.
- Black and Pacific Islander students are more likely to drop out than Hispanic, White, and Asian students.
- Also, Asian students have consistently had the lowest dropout rates after the first year than other racial groups by at an average of 16.6%.
|Race||Dropout rates of students (2020)|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||11.5|
|Pacific Islander||6.2 approx.|
|Two or more races||6.5|
Following are the detailed statistics on dropout rates by race.
(Source: ThinkImpact, EDI)
- According to ThinkImpact in 2021, 72% of the Asian students in the US finished their degrees, with 61% of them from the same college and 8% of them from different colleges.
- 14% of students did not finish college in 2021.
- EDI reports that in 2021, 10% of the students dropped out of four-year degree programs, and 35% dropped out of two-year programs.
- 67% of the white students finished the complete degree with 52% of them from the same college and 11% of them from different colleges.
- 21% of the white students did not finish college.
- There are 55% of Hispanic students who had finished their degrees in 2021, with 44% of them from the same college and 8 % of them from different colleges.
- 27% of Hispanic students no longer finish college.
- EDI reported that in 2021, 36% of American Indians drop out of both two-year and four-year colleges.
- 30% to 27% of college graduates are rejected between the year 2000 to 2017.
- Admissionsly stated that 23% of full-time students graduate within four years.
- In the year 2021, 46% of the black students finished their degrees, with 35 % of them from the same college and 7% of them from different colleges.
- It is seen that black students take 6 years to complete the four-year graduation program. Male black students are more likely to drop out than female students.
- 35% of black students did not finish college.
More than one race
- ThinkImpact stated that 61% of the students finished their degrees, with 9% from different colleges and 49% from the same college.
- 24% of them had left the college in 2021.
It is seen that men are more likely to drop out of college than women. Female students tend to perform better than male students in college as statistics claim that 6 female students enrolled for every four male students.
- Statistics show that more female high school graduates enrolled in college as compared to males with a dropout rate of 20% higher for men than women.
- NCES reported that in 2013 66% of females graduated within 6 years while 60% of male students graduated that year.
- In private nonprofit colleges, 71% are more graduates than male which is 64%.
- In private colleges, 28% more men than 25 % of the more women graduates.
- In public colleges, 65% of the women graduate as compared to 50% of the men.
- Around 51% of the women who enrolled in college in 2014 completed their degree within 4 years as compared to 41% of men.
- On average, after six years it is seen that 24% of women drop out as compared to about 28% of men.
- According to the data from EDI 2021, male high school graduates that are aged between 16-24 were enrolled in university.
- Similarly, 71.3% of high school male graduates aged between 16-24 enrolled in the university.
- In 2020 enrollment, 70% of the decline accounted for male students.
- 5% of students aged 19 and under usually drop out.
- Pupils between the ages of 20 and 23 drop out at a rate of 51%.
- Dropout rates account for 52% of college undergraduate students between the ages of 24 and 29.
- Dropouts account for 52% of students over the age of 30.
For students enrolled in four-year colleges
- 15% of students who are 19 years old or younger dropout.
- Dropouts account for slightly more than half (51%) of students aged 20 to 23.
- Students between the ages of 24 and 29 drop out at a rate of 52%.
- Dropouts account for 54% of students over the age of 30.
Age-wise student dropout rate (2020):
|Age||Drop out Rate|
|16 years old||5.6%|
|17 years old||5.8%|
|18 years old||5.4%|
|19 years old||5.2%|
|20 to 24 years old||5.1%|
State-wise College Dropout Rates in the US
Many popular cities like Texas, California, and New York have the highest rate of college dropout students.
The rates of college dropout vary by region. The density of the population, the regional economy, and state education statistics all have an effect on college graduation rates.
Here is the top 10 states with the highest percentage of college dropouts in the US
|State||Dropouts in percentage|
- The states with the lowest dropout rates are Delaware and Hawaii, with 6.6% and 6.8%, respectively.
- The rates of college dropout vary by region. The density of the population, the regional economy, and state education statistics all have an effect on college graduation rates.
- Oregon seems to have the highest percentage of college dropouts in the country, at 18.2% of the overall population.
- Dropouts outnumber enrolled undergraduates 5-to-1 in Alaska, which has the maximum dropout-to-undergraduate ratio.
- Connecticut has the highest proportion of dropouts aged 65 and up, accounting for 24.9% of all states.
- The majority of college dropouts in Delaware (53.7%) are under the age of 35.
- California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida account for 39.4% of dropouts.
College Dropout Rates of Students with Disabilities
There is a system of special education for students who have one or more than one disability. There are many students who drop out due to fewer accommodations available in colleges.
Disability Students drop outrate shows that
- 49% of the students with ADHD who have not been given proper medicines are more likely to drop out of college.
- 90% of high school graduates with various disabilities who are expected to be in college ready are less than 35% of the graduate students who took eight years.
- 47% of the students who have schizophrenia leave the university in between.
- Students who are suffering from depression do not finish their degrees.
The Reason Behind Student Dropout
In the survey held in the year 2021, it is seen that 3,236 students between 18-34 age dropped out of college because of a lack of money and personal family issues.
Younger students are more likely to drop out because of low interest in the career stream and disinterest in college.
- The typical undergraduate leaves college with approximately $14,000 in student loan debt.
- Due to financial constraints, 38% of students drop out of college.
- 13% of students struggle to fit into college social life correctly.
- A lack of sufficient family support gives rise to 9% of college dropouts.
- Academic disqualification – failure to meet the set educational standards – causes 28% of students to drop out of college.
- 3% of college students drop out because of their mental, psychological, or emotional problems.
- Distance is often a factor in why students who live far from their college campus eventually drop out. This accounts for 4% of college dropouts.
- Health issues are cited as the primary reason for dropping out by 5% of students.
- 89% of first-generation students from low-income households drop out of college.
According to the survey of 2020:
- 32% of the students left the college because of personal and family issues.
- 4% of the students drop out because of academic failure and poor performance.
- 3% of the students left college during the pandemic situations.
- Here is detailed data on reasons behind the drop out of college.
|Reasons||Percentage of students who dropped out|
|Personal and family issues||32%|
|Job and career path||11%|
|Disinterested in school||10%|
|Time and commitment issues||5%|
|Unsure about future plans||5%|
|Poor performance and academic failure||4%|
|Unable to finish the course||4%|
Statistics show that students who have higher student loans tend to drop out of college, thinking that it can reduce their expenses.
- According to Admissionsly, more than two million students have failed to cover their loans in the past six years. Dropout rates impact both the economy as well as students as a lack of financial recovery limit.
- 55% of the students struggle to get financial support for their education which results in 79% of them delaying their education.
- 51.04% of the students drop out because they fail to pay college fees.
- It is estimated that in the next 10 years taxpayers will have an overall $31 billion in losses due to low limits for defaulting on their loans.
- After graduation, 53% of the students with low-income delay or do not enroll in college while only 11% of the higher-income students refuse to enroll in college.
- According to the EDI report, 12.7% of the students are living in poverty with high school diplomas only.
- Students who are living in poverty are around 4.8% with a bachelor’s degree.
- As of 2021, students of age 25 with no degree had a median weekly earning of $899. And the unemployment rate for students with no college degree is 5.5%.
- A college dropout’s annual income is 35% lower than that of a college graduate.
Moreover, students with low-income struggle with keeping up with the college costs that are needed to secure their education.
- As per the data, only 42% of low-income students are more likely to pursue an associate degree. Moreover, 32% took a bachelor’s degree.
- 51% of low-income students enroll in two-year or shorter programs.
- Among the students with low income, 28% of students attended public colleges.
- Similarly, 18% of students with low income attended community college, and 2% went with for-profit colleges.
- When talking about students with higher incomes, 78% of them are more likely to attend four-year degrees. 13% of them pursue a two-year degree.
- 54% of the students with higher incomes tend to attend public colleges.
- 26% of the higher-income students attended private colleges, and 18% went to community colleges.
- 2% of the students with higher incomes attended for-profit colleges.
Following is the comparison between low-income vs high-income working learners.
|Share of work hours||Low-Income||High-Income|
Conclusion: College Dropout Rate in The US in 2023
When students decide to drop out of college, a variety of factors play a role. Whether it’s rising tuition or demanding academics, similar reasons have continued to lead to college dropouts over the years, irrespective of a college’s audience, condition, or location.
But remember: Achieving a successful future requires continuing to pursue a college education. As a result, it is essential to comprehend how these challenges affect aspiring degree holders to prepare ahead and complete one’s degree on time.
I hope this article helped you with an appropriate rate of college dropouts. If we have missed something that is important and related to the college dropout rate in the US, then share it with us in the comment section below.
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